FULTON — Longtime Unatego girls soccer coach Sue Herodes didn’t hesitate Saturday when asked if this current group of Spartans was the best she’s coach.
“This one is on top,” Herodes said.
Equally undeniable Saturday afternoon at Fulton High was that Section Four champion Unatego was the second-best team on the field for a Class C state quarterfinal.
Serena Kiss and Elisa Marchione scored second-half goals to lead Section Three’s Sauquoit Valley to a 2-0 victory — a final score that accurately depicted what transpired over 80 minutes on the artificial surface.
The Spartans (18-1-1) generated chances — the three best arguably starting on corner kicks by Cassidy Newman in the second half — but the Indians authored the best scoring opportunities on a cloudy but pleasant autumn day.
SV (18-2) had more speed and size — not major advantages but definitely noticeable.
“We’re a fast team,” said SV’s Jenna Mazza, whose crafty individual effort along the right end line midway through the second half helped produce the first goal. “This is probably one of the fastest teams we’ve had in a while and I think it helped us out a lot.”
Mazza assisted freshman Kiss’ goal with 22 minutes, 10 seconds left. The assist, in this instance, was much better than the goal itself.
A speedy sophomore, Mazza controlled the ball down the right side and took it to the end line. Unatego had a defender in position, but Mazza faked going back out before reversing field and turning the corner toward the goal.
“You don’t want to give up that end line,” Herodes said. “You can keep them on the flank, but as soon as they turn that corner and go parallel with the end line, you’re in trouble because as soon as you do that, the defense is going to shift. When that happens, that opens up the weak side.”